You can stop asking Dave Stein when you run into him in town now: Hidden Still isn’t going anywhere.
“We’re not closing the restaurant down or the distillery,” he said today in a phone interview with LebTown. “Those things will remain on Willow Street.”
In fact, Stein said that the company’s last couple of quarters, including last week’s Valentine’s Day turnout, have been very good. “I think we’re starting to get a following,” said Stein. “Our brand name has been more and more recognized.”
Although those persistent rumors of an imminent move were untrue, they were maybe based somewhat in reality. Hidden Still has explored locations in other areas, notably Hershey, and has already opened a remote retail facility in Lancaster at Shot & Bottle, a restaurant that serves PA products. Stein says that Hidden Still is one of a half dozen distilleries selling retail there using a remote license.
“We still are looking at Hershey,” said Stein today. “We are looking at putting a facility in the Hershey area.”
“The fact of the matter is that we’re not shutting down Lebanon for Hershey.”
The Hershey site would be similar to the restaurant in Lebanon. Production in Hershey? That could happen, too.
Right now, the company is gearing up for a year of big expansion for its distribution of Hidden Still spirits. The company expects to be in 2-4 countries by the end of 2019 through its new partner, ASM Brands out of Australia. ASM Brands will also be distributing Hidden Still nationally to 8-15 states this year as part of their expansion plans.
“They felt that what we were doing, we were doing right,” said Stein of his new partners. “We were not cutting corners.”
Hidden Still bourbon is said to be produced just like in Kentucky –
twice distilled, 53 gallon barrels, and at least a two year cycle (Hidden Still is doing a three year cycle now and by the end of the year will be in a four year cycle).
“It’s not a sourced product,” said Stein, referring to brands that age and bottle product from another distiller. Hidden Still bourbon uses local grain, and from mashing and bottling the whole process takes place on site.
“When I bought the facility, it was a little over 101 years old, now we’re coming into 105 years,” said Stein of the old Yocum Brothers Cigar factory at 435 Willow Street. The old industrial building was gutted and built out, and doubtless plays into the overall appeal of Hidden Still’s homegrown libations.
With a clientele that seems to be about 60-70% from outside Lebanon County, the brand has benefited from programs like York County’s Keystone Spirits trail as well as some advertising in Dauphin County.
Stein thinks another big factor is customers who experience Hidden Still spirits at restaurants in Lititz, Pittsburgh, Manheim, and elsewhere throughout the state. The company has also done a partnership with Tröegs for Grand Cru and has another in the works with Yuengling that involves some Hidden Still bourbon barrels.
Hidden Still is also adding a tequila and a mezcal this year, both agave-based liquors made in specific regions of Mexico, which should be out under the Hidden Still Spirits label by this summer.
Hidden Still is open Wednesday 4pm to 10pm and Thursday – Saturday 11am to 10pm.